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“What do you get when you cross a chart-topping singer, a breathtaking beauty, captivating actress, trail-blazing style icon, record-breaking pioneer, mesmerizing performer, legendary mega-star, international superstar, and all around boss? Everybody, you get my mom.”
After an introduction from her son Evan, Diana Ross took the stage at the Microsoft Theater for a rare performance in honor of her American Music Award for lifetime achievement.
Daughter Tracee Ellis Ross also hosted the AMAs on ABC, the home of the younger Ross’ popular sitcom Black-ish.
Known initially for her success as one of The Supremes, then for her popular solo career, the elder Ross is no first-timer at the AMAs. She hosted the show in both 1986 and 1987 and was even in attendance at the first-ever AMAs in 1974.
Before her time to shine, Barack and Michelle Obama made a surprise video appearance at the AMAs, commending Ross’ musical achievement and expressing their surprise that she hasn’t received this award already.
“People from the ages of eight to 80 know every word of Diana Ross’ songs,” Michelle proclaimed. “Her artistry resonates with folks of every race, background, and walk of life.”
“Today, her voice is still pure, her beauty is undeniable, and showmanship is on point as back when she was a Supreme,” the Former First Lady said.
Barack then reminded us of the Presidential Medal of Freedom that he awarded to Ross last year. “But this is a big deal, too,” he admitted.
Taylor Swift — who released her new album Reputation earlier this month — also made a video appearance in L.A. to congratulate Miss Ross on her award and thank her for all she has done for the music industry, mentioning the former Supreme has “paved the way for everyone who does what [they] do now,” and calling her “elegant, fierce, song, and brave.”
On Sunday night, Ross showed off all facets of her career in a comprehensive medley including hit songs “I’m Coming Out,” “Take Me Higher,” “Ease on Down the Road,” “Best Years of My Life” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
Ross’ performance kicked off with a montage of clips from past shows and a voiceover biography detailing her roots and her journey to success. Those clips faded tidbits of Ross at awards shows throughout the years with background music of some of her most famous songs — “Why Do Fools Fall In Love” and “Endless Love.” The tribute included Oprah Winfrey speaking highly of the pop star on her talk show, a featured performance alongside past AMA lifetime achievement award winner Michael Jackson and her entrance to her Super Bowl performance years ago.
“As I look back, every step of my life was necessary and complete and perfect. Through it all, there has always been music,” Ross said as she closed her video soliloquy.
The 73-year-old brought life to the stage, capturing the crowd with a lively performance of “I’m Coming Out,” during which the cameras panned to her granddaughter singing along in the crowd. “Take Me Higher” brought a small costume change as Ross ditched the purple tutu and revealed a slimming black gown. Ross then paid tribute to her acting career with a short “Ease on Down the Road” chorus.
Ross dedicated “Best Years of My Life” “with so much love,” telling the audience they are “everything to [her].”
To round out her part of the show, Ross belted the fan-favorite “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” which many in the crowd apparently found impossible not to dance along to. Her grandchildren joined her on stage (and one even picked her nose!) to aid in this legendary performance. Her grandson channeled his inner-Michael Jackson in an attempt to steal the spotlight from his grandma and as the music faded, her entire family joined Ross to commemorate the special moment.
Ross’ daughter Rhonda then gave a stunning tribute to her mother, telling her she “blazed the way…for all of us,” and presented Ross with the American Music Award for lifetime achievement.
“This is all about love,” Ross claimed after accepting her award alongside those she loves most. “I feel so humbled by this. I love you so very much and I think you know that,” Ross told the crowd.
Throughout her performance, two screens behind her showed a variation of video clips from past shows as well as photos of Ross and her close friends and family.
In the show’s 45-year history, Ross has won seven awards and performed countless times.
The lifetime achievement award is given to artists with significantly successful careers and large contributions to the music industry, with past recipients including Michael Jackson, Prince, Whitney Houston and Sting.
Other artists taking the AMA stage include Imagine Dragons and Khalid, Selena Gomez, Kelly Clarkson, Demi Lovato, Portugal The Man, Pink, Hailee Steinfeld and Alessia Cara and Zedd.
Watch her performance here.
— AMAs (@AMAs) November 20, 2017
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